Three ways to find a Thoroughbred

The comments to “So where’d you get that racehorse?” keep piling in (there are even some on Facebook) and wow, was I fascinated to see how many readers got their OTTBs from adoption/rescue agencies! Comment after comment kept listing different organizations! I think this covers everyone who got a mention:

A few people got their horses from track workers (it tends to be female exercise riders who place horses, which is a little disappointing since the overwhelming majority of exercise riders are male. Men, if you are placing horses, please step up, defend your sex, and tell me about it!) and good trainers. One or two went the classified ad route.

Adoption agencies lead the pack by a wide margin, though, and the reason is simple. I’ll let Sarah from Miles on Miles make the point:

What I love love love about them is that they showcase those horses like nobody’s business. I could watch 2 videos of him being ridden and see multiple conformation photos before taking the 4 hour drive to see him. At any given time I can go on their website and want to take home at least 75% of the horses that are available. When I went to see him, I was able to see him being ridden, and then able to do ground work and bathe him and graze him, turn him out, on my own. They really “stand in the gap”, which is so important for people like me. I’m a competent rider, but I really didn’t want to take a horse that ONLY knew the track. I wanted someone else to take care of all the “firsts” that a transitioning horse goes through. Also, by the time the horses are put up on the website, they really know the horses, the good and the bad, and they were very upfront.

There you go. If you’re not a trainer looking for an OTTB to train and sell on, you can’t beat the adoption agency route. The information is all there in front of you.

OTTB Such Fortune, at New Vocations

New Vocations tell you everything-even her pecking order so you know if she'll get along with your boss mare.

New Vocations sells me a horse twice a day, but I think they outdid themselves with Such Fortune. I want her soooooo badly. That’s beside the point.

In contrast to a New Vocations listing, here’s what you get from a classified ad. Here’s a small part of today’s page from, which is where I got Final Call.

Here we have a free horse who is a little strong and not for beginners, but gives riding lessons to toddlers. We have a free horse who is too much for someone’s wife and step-dad, so he has to go. We have a free filly who… well, we don’t know anything about her, do we. And there is an OTTB of indeterminate height and  at an unspecified stage of retraining who is $1800.

Unless you really love cold-calling random strangers who can’t spell their own horse’s names correctly, I think New Vocations wins this face-off.

And then there’s Craigslist. But do we really even want to get into a Craigslist discussion? The first thing I pulled up on Ocala Craigslist was this:

$200. Really.

I had to stop there.

So there you have it. Three ways to buy a Thoroughbred. The adoption agency (don’t forget they have trainer-listings, so you can buy direct instead of adopt), the contact at the racetrack (Men! If you’re out there, comment!), and the classified/Craigslist ad.

Who wins? And which do we need more of?



Filed under Retirement Options

13 responses to “Three ways to find a Thoroughbred

  1. So…I’m going to be *that* person for a second here, but:

    We find that sometimes the word “adoption” scares a lot of folks away from checking out the horses on the CANTER listings. A lot of people, like you, don’t want to have that horse for the rest of their lives, so they run screaming from anything with a whiff of a contract; and unfortunately a lot of those folks are the professionals that we’re so trying to attract.

    It’s a very conscious thing with us to make it clear that our trainer listings are part of the “retirement” portion of the services that we provide. And then also let them know that there are several CANTER owned horses that are available, with a contract, for adoption.

    It seems silly sometimes but I think it highlights that there is a wide range of buyers out there who are looking at OTTBs for many different reasons…from doing a good thing and getting the pasture pal to doing a good thing and buying good prospects to sell later. I’d love to see more of the later come along, and I think helping clarify the murky waters of horse retirement/adoption/rescue helps that. 🙂

    • I don’t think that can be emphasized enough!!

      I didn’t know about trainer-listings when I was in the market… I only thought “they do adoptions and I want a project horse!” so I gave all the agencies a wide-birth.

      I think we need a better word.

      I don’t like “rescue” because it implies that every horse coming off the track is a victim.

      I try using “adoption agency” but then you overlook the “retirement” services you mention.

      So maybe “Thoroughbred retirement agency” is the way to go.

      • That’s what I try try to stick with: “Thoroughbred retirement agency” Start with that, then explain the different services each provides. We’re all trying to get horses good new homes so it never has to get to rescue.

        I HATE using rescue. HATE it. Been working on a blog post about it, but the editing process is taking a really long time because I get all ranty.

  2. Why don’t you call it exactly what it is?
    A Rehoming Agency. 🙂

  3. Anna

    how about Placement Agency? I adopted my boy from LOPE and the wording doesn’t bother me at all. But I intend to keep him forever, too. I don’t like ‘rescue’, either, because I’ve helped do just that. And the horses we’ve rehabbed have, indeed, been victims.

  4. Jacqueline Daly

    Tampa has a wonderful organization called Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc. (T.R.O.T.) They do a wonderful job taking care of the horses that retire from the track, rehabilitating them, caring for them and finding them homes. Please include their website:

  5. lynn sullivan

    Bravo!!! Great information!!! Now I know exactly what we need to work on 🙂

  6. I adopted my OTTB from Race Horse Reclaim Thoroughbred Rescue. I think we need more rescues/adoptions because these people really do want what is best for the horse and tend to take the future adopter into consideration in order to find the best match. Thanks for your wonderful blogs on this topic! I have really enjoyed reading them and think they have been very informative.

  7. MAN, if I knew I was going to be quoted I would have minded my grammer a bit:)
    I am terrified of those ads you posted. Seriously, toddlers ride this horse but not safe for beginners??? I’d rather have straight up honesty than that crap. Still, those horses in the private/CL ads are every bit as worthy as the ones advertised on NV and other reputable organizations. It makes me so sad for the horses…it really is the luck of the draw for them. In a perfect world I am a millionaire AND an amazing, fearless rider. This would allow me to take a chance on these poor souls, give them some retraining, and advertise them PROPERLY for sale. I know I’m biased, but it’s a rare TB that isn’t gorgeous with good weight, good set up and lighting and a photog that knows what they’re doing. Anyway, your blog has been a fabulous read lately NK…YOU are doing great work for our beloveds:)

  8. Oh, also, I really like the term “rehoming” for those organizations that don’t mind people taking their horses, putting some training into them, and selling them. Having said that, I think there still needs to be a very strict contract (as far as checking references, facilities, and getting at least one update with pictures). Too many shysters out there. If someone really wants a horse free and clear, direct from the track is the way to go.
    And yes, the term “rescue” is wayyyyy overused. Most horses off the track do not need rescuing, especially if you get them from say NV or CANTER or LOPE. Miles obviously was loved and had great care on the track and beyond. I did not rescue him from anything:)


    Kim Clark run Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue and they do wonderful job here in MD.

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